"Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." - Jesus (Matthew 6:31-33)
Over the last few years, even though I have not experienced it myself personally, I have seen friends and family lose their jobs. I grew up in the home of a coal-miner and I am told that our family personally has experienced layoff though I was too young to remember it. Unfortunately, it seems that layoff has become a common term in our everyday language. Therefore, I desire to speak directly to both those who are currently experiencing job loss and those who are facing it (and their families). I am posting this blog to be an encouragement of light in a dark time and be used of God to ease the fear that comes along with job loss.
In a time when jobs are already scarce and layoffs can be imminent, it is easy for us to fall into a pattern of worry and anxiety. Thoughts like, “How will I provide for my family?” or “What will my family think of me without a job?” arise in our minds. We consider what our future even holds. We anxiously wonder where we are going and how we are going to get there.
Times like these are difficult because the majority of us identify ourselves by what we do at our occupation. For example, in a standard conversation between two strangers, the conversation usually leads into a direction of asking what each other does for a living. The reason is that we identify ourselves by what it is we do for a living. That is why when it seems like our job may dissolve, it is like losing a piece of our identity. And it hurts. It hurts worse the longer we’ve been there when that identity had taken root and sunk deeper.
Being unemployed can feel like being lost without an identity. Persons without a job often feel as if they are not truly living until they have a job (purpose) again. This is understandable considering that God created us to work. The first man, Adam, was placed in the Garden of Eden to “dress and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Work is fulfilling because God designed us that way.
Christians, however, are called to embrace a higher identity than placing it on a temporary, earthly job. That’s because we are not biblically called to identify ourselves by what we do or career position we hold. We are called to identify ourselves by a person we know, Jesus Christ. When we are born-again, our identity is wrapped up in Him (Ephesians 2:6). The job is only what we do as we pass through this temporary life. However, our focus is called to be on the next life. The Christian rests in the next life knowing that everything in this life is temporary.
The true Christian also rests in knowing that the Creator of the Universe is their God and their Father. He is control of every circumstance that invades the life of the Christian. God is not surprised by it. Jesus makes this abundantly clear in one of His famous sermons. Our Lord illustrates the care and providence of God for His own by pointing to the fact that He knows every hair on our heads (Matthew 10:30). Jesus stresses this to emphasize that the Father is concerned about and even working in, the smallest details of our lives. It is estimated that the average person loses about a hundred hairs a day from their head. However, no matter how many fall, God knows everyone whether they are still attached or flowing down to the ground.
Let me challenge us all that are laid off or facing job loss to a new perspective this evening:
Instead of falling into despair as we naturally do, let us realize that if God knows every hair on our head, then He was the one that allowed us to work at the job we do have. That is, the job was just another detail that our loving God placed in our lives as a gift. Therefore, He deserves gratitude for providing that job for us to produce in the first place. We should voice a prayer of praise and thanks for His providence.
The word “layoff” is a not a popular word but an all-to-common one in our area. Hearing of possibility of layoff causes a stream of anxious and worrisome thoughts to flow through our minds. Yet, how about we respond in faith knowing that the Lord who gave us the first job is certainly capable of providing us another one?
I realize that it is the ‘wait period’ in between jobs that is the most stressful. Certain luxuries are cut out. Television service is cut off. Internet is cut. Fast food is cut. Vacations are cut. Gas is cut. In other words, the standard of living is flipped upside down and significant adjustments are made. No doubt it is not fun during the wait period. However, the wait period can also be a great place to be spiritually.
Why is it such a great place spiritually? It is there that life slows down and we are more likely to notice the Lord’s hand in our lives. It is there that we are more likely to draw nigh to God. It is there that we grow more grateful for the gifts we once took for granted. It is there that priorities are evaluated. Luxuries become more precious there.
King David experienced a time of despair as he was driven from his throne and all its’ luxuries to a difficult wilderness. In essence, he was “laid off.” Yet, King David’s greatest songs were written in these times of "layoff" that created great stress and doubt. While there, he discovered that the God that emplaced him on the throne to begin with was in complete control of his life even though he was now enduring the wilderness. There, he learned that, even though he was in the wilderness, God was in control and still had him in His hands. In fact, King David, after everything he had been through, both good and bad, had this to say:
“I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” – Psalms 37:25
Let us place our trust in the all-knowing, loving God in our times of trial while at the same time, learning spiritual lessons. Use the time you have during the ‘wait period’ to draw nearer to Him and serve others in the name of Christ.